Following the vote to leave the European Union (EU), many European Economic Area (EEA) nationals currently living and working in the UK will be concerned for their future.
Unfortunately, it will be some time before we can expect an official statement on the status of EEA nationals once the UK formally leaves the EU. The UK is required to give notice of its intention to exit the EU before it is officially able to leave, and this notice may not be given until a new Prime Minister is elected this autumn. Only then can negotiations over the conditions of an exit from the EU begin.
For now, however, EEA nationals in the UK should remember that they can continue to exercise their free movement rights by living and working in the UK until any withdrawal from the EU is complete.
What are my UK visa options?
It is important to stress that the right to freedom of movement of EEA nationals to and from the UK may in fact still be retained by the UK government following Brexit negotiations.
If you are worried about your future in the UK, however, there are some steps which you can take right now to help minimise any risk to you and your family’s UK immigration status in the future:
- Apply for a registration certificate – If you have been in the UK for a period of less than five years, you can apply for a registration certificate which would certify that you are in the UK in accordance with your treaty rights. This will be valid for five years as of date of issue and could allow you to remain in the UK following our official withdrawal from the EU for the remaining validity of your certificate.
- Confirm you permanent residency -If you have been resident in the UK for five or more continuous years, you can apply for confirmation of your permanent residency rights. This confirms that you have the right to live permanently in the UK, regardless of any post-exit removal of free movement rights.
- Apply for British citizenship – If you are already in possession of permanent residency, and have been so for five years or more, you will be eligible to apply for British Citizenship. This would grant you all the rights of a UK citizen, and allows you to apply for a British passport.
What is the best choice for me?
There are in fact more visa and immigration options which EEA nationals and their families could look at in order to safeguard themselves against a worst-case, post-exit scenario. Tier 1, for example, caters for high net-worth individuals such as investors and entrepreneurs.
What about my family and dependants in the UK?
If you successfully apply for any of the options listed in the bullet points above, it is more than likely that your dependants in the UK will be protected by your new immigration status.